I have two passions in life that take priority over other desires. The first is travel and the second, is to develop people. I have covered five continents and numerous cities and locations to fulfil my yen for travel. For people development I take up any opportunity that comes my way. A unique and memorable opportunity that came along in November last year was to be a ‘senior’ intern at Careem.
The concept, according to Ghazanfar Iqbal, Country Head Sales, Careem, “started as a discussion between a few of us and then we went on to build a programme from scratch and then navigated it through the unknown. What kept us going was our passion to learn from experienced professionals eager to share their learnings.”
When I was approached by Careem to discuss this opportunity I was a bit sceptical about the company and the people. Having worked for world-class companies, my bar for assessing the characteristics of a company is high. When I visited the Careem office in Karachi and met Iqbal and Bilal Soomro I instantly fell in love with their “intern” concept, inspired by the 2005 movie The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. I accepted their offer without asking any of the typical questions potential candidates usually do.
My first day at Careem was like going back to school after a long vacation. I had the opportunity to meet and interact with the regional leadership as well as the new entrants. One thing that was common between them all was the ‘spark’. Careem has a brilliant team of professionals, committed to their work and to the company. During the time that I spent at Careem, I had the chance to observe Careem’s impact in Pakistan over the last few years, not just in providing employment opportunities, but also in bringing about a shift in mindsets, in terms of socio-economics and providing women safe and secure mobility options.
Among other members of the leadership team, I met Ibrahim Manna, Managing Director – Global Markets. He was very impressed by the idea of learning from experienced professionals. After exchanging views on Pakistan’s market and professionals he asked me “What’s in it for you Mr Zahid?” My response was, “This is the best way to give back to the community and the country. In addition to that I am fulfilling my passion – people development.” I had several sessions with most of the teams at Careem. My career counselling tip to them, as well as to all young professionals, was to stay out of the rat race and stick with one company for at least a couple of years and learn about the dynamics of the business world and experience different company cultures. My view on working remotely and having flexible working hours is that although we do get to be more productive and focused, we miss out on hands-on grooming and developing the ability to work as a team.
By using this intern model, more companies, especially start-ups, can benefit from this sort of programme without spending a single penny. In fact, they will benefit from the same advice and recommendations as they would get from expensive consultants.
Zahid Chaudhary is a Management Consultant and an Independent Director on the Board of Directors for SEPCO. firstname.lastname@example.org